I have run quite a few retro themed websites in my time and still run a couple now, you are looking at one such labour of love. As such I have often craved an easy way of producing pixelated images that look similar to those produced by the machines I often write about, usually just to pretty up an article or to give me something to do when I’m waiting for my Xbox to update. This often entails me messing around for hours in Photoshop and never really getting anywhere near an accurate version of what it would have actually looked like rendered on my little 14″ Ferguson colour portable back in 1983.
Throw away your Game Boy cameras and your silly Photoshop. Brace yourself for some serious colour clash. That just changed.
What is this Retrospecs then?
Retrospecs is an iOS app by John Parker (www.8bitartwork.co.uk) which takes an image from now (either taken through the app itself or from your camera roll etc.) and uses it’s built in time machine thingy to re-render it akin to a range of retro computer and console formats (Yup, I lied about the time machine). These include; Apple II, Intellivision, Atari 2600, BBC Micro, ZX spectrum (complete with colour clash!), Colecovision and of course the wonderful green hues of the Game Boy. There are many more besides, some of which you will recognise, some, depending on age and state of mind, you may not. Once you have decided on which machine you like the blocky rendering style of most, you can then opt to save said pixelated masterpiece to your iDevice and then use the range of dithering filters and various other options like low light compensation to alter the image to your liking. After that it is up to you to risk emailing your friends your chunked up imagery or keeping your friends and Tweeting it to those who aren’t.
Is it any good?
Well actually yes. Very. To be honest I just wish this had been around years ago when I first wanted to start using pixelated background artwork on my websites. I would have more hair and less stress related illnesses due to excessive Photoshop exposure. Apart from being fun to use (and for many this will be worth the download just for the fun/nostalgia factor alone), this is a great design/photography tool too. Using some of my better photos (I do have a few) I managed to get some really great looking art in just a few minutes of using the app. The only thing I’m a little unsure about is the apps current inability to utilise portrait mode, it forces you to take new images in landscape only but this is only a small niggle which John may or may not iron out in future releases. This isn’t just another “it’s got pixels showing, lets call it 8bit” app, John obviously knows a great deal about computer and console graphics and it shows throughout with results that could actually have been rendered on the machines themselves.
A great bit of nostalgic fun, or a tool to produce art. Your choice. Whatever you choose to use this app for though, it is great fun and at .99p has got to be worth a download. What are you waiting for?